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German Rust-Belt Voters Test Merkel in Last Election Warmup

  • Polls give CDU an edge in North Rhine-Westphalia on Sunday
  • Merkel’s fading SPD challenger looks to revive momentum
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Merkel Faces Test in Local Election Warm-Up

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For someone who’s rooting for Angela Merkel’s election opponent, labor-union official Josef Huelsduenker has a lot of respect for the chancellor.

Sitting in a cafe in the town hall of Gelsenkirchen, a rust-belt town in Germany’s Ruhr Valley industrial heartland, the longtime Social Democrat said Merkel’s relationship with the unions “improved hugely” after the financial crisis during her first term. He finds her far more approachable than any of her fellow Christian Democrat cabinet ministers.